Oct 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Democrats sue after N.C. Republicans override governor's voting laws veto

Roy Cooper, governor of North Carolina, speaks on the anniversary of the US Supreme Courtotte, North Carolina, US, on decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization at the Grady Cole Center in CharlSaturday, June 24, 2023.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in Charlotte in June. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lawmakers in North Carolina's Republican-majority legislature voted Tuesday to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto on election laws, which took immediate effect as a consequence.

State of play: Moments later, the Democratic National Committee and the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 747, which the suit states is "designed to undermine the right to vote in North Carolina."

  • Pro-voting groups led by Voto Latino brought a separate lawsuit challenging parts of S.B. 747 that affect registering to vote in elections moments before the vote.

Why it matters: North Carolina is a key 2024 election battleground state and one of the laws would end an extended deadline for submitting absentee ballots.

  • The lawsuits foretell the DNC and Biden campaign's plans for 2024, "drawing lessons from efforts to counter voting restrictions in 2020" — with the aim of overturning some of the legislation before the presidential election, campaign officials told Politico.

Of note: The plaintiffs take issue with several provisions — notably one that requires documentation in addition to photo ID, such as a current utility bill, on same-day registration.

  • Another provision, known as Senate Bill 512, would ensure that state lawmakers appoint boards with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, instead of the party of the governor.
  • Cooper's office announced Tuesday that he had filed a lawsuit "challenging provisions in SB 512, a blatantly unconstitutional power grab."

What they're saying: "These provisions are not justified by any sufficient state interest, and they will deny eligible voters their fundamental right to cast ballots and have those ballots counted," the DNC and North Carolina Democratic Party argue in their suit.

  • The pro-voting groups lawsuit argues that studies have shown that up to 23% of all undeliverable mail is the result of U.S. Postal Service error rather than a faulty address.
  • "Compounding the problem, poll workers often complete registration applications for same-day registrants and may make mistakes in recording the voter's address," they argue.
  • Black, Latino and young North Carolinians are more likely to have mail returned as undeliverable due to housing insecurity, having a college campus address or living in multi-generational households, according to the lawsuit.

The other side: North Carolina Republican Party chair Michael Whatley said in a statement Tuesday the state has "reason to celebrate" the legislative overhaul, which he said "will make the N.C. Board of Elections a non-partisan entity and add important election integrity safeguards."

  • "We applaud the N.C. General Assembly for their efforts to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in the Old North State," he added.

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